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Author Topic: Revisiting the idea of simplifying the DC big app license key stuff  (Read 12461 times)
jgpaiva
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« Reply #25 on: February 22, 2011, 12:14:37 PM »

I really like that idea, but I think it might go against the motto that people who can't pay could have access to a fully-working copy. Personally I really like the "tell us how we can improve our software (or site?) and get a 6-month working key" option, it might bring some nice karma.

But can't pay even a dollar to help support the site?
I was one of them  embarassed
At the time, I had no way to actually send money to the site, as I did not have money in Paypal, nor was old enough to have a credit card (now I already am, but still don't have one tongue).
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bob99
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« Reply #26 on: February 22, 2011, 12:54:55 PM »

It's more of a gut feeling that things are just a little complex and confusing, and that this turns people away.

What about something like this:

Programs always run, always latest version, always full features enabled (just like now).
If you haven't put any license key in you will occasionally be reminded to click a link to get a license key (just like now).

However, the change will be to the license key page, similar to what jgpaiva proposed.  The simplified page will say:
  • 1. Click here for a license key that will work for 60 days; come back any time to get another.
  • 2. Or donate any amount to become a lifetime member and receive a permanent license key.

And remove all of the other rigmarole.


Oops, somehow scrolled too fast and over jgpaiva's post or could have just done a +1.
Simple is better.
IMO I would still consider leaving out the word FREE.
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mouser
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« Reply #27 on: February 22, 2011, 01:50:25 PM »

Another possibility would be:

  • 1. Click here to get a license key that will last until you upgrade the program to a new version
  • 2. Or donate any amount to become a lifetime member and get a permanent license key.
  • 3. If you are part of a non-profit organization, or are a freeware author, or have considered the ideas of the site and have decided that you will not be donating for whatever reason, send us an email describing why and we will send you a non-expiring license key.

The change here would be that instead of requiring a new license key every X days, you need a new license key when upgrading.  And no need to sign up for a key, you get one just by visiting the page.

This seems like it would be less annoying for most people.. the downside would be that it might lead to more irritating upgrades and people less likely to want to upgrade, and perhaps less donations.
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barney
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« Reply #28 on: February 22, 2011, 03:14:55 PM »

... and the fear of risking their financial information with some site they don't know about ...

That could be relatively easily resolved by offering several payment options, including PayPal, Google Checkout, Amazon (I think), and there are others.  That way, their info is not given to the site, but to a major name - which is presumed to be more trustworthy than a mere site  tongue.
(Reason for offering multiple options is to allow for some folk not liking a particular option - I know a bunch who are anti-PayPal.)

I haven't been there for a while, so don't really know what payment options are available.
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mouser
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« Reply #29 on: February 22, 2011, 04:08:29 PM »

Quote
easily resolved by offering several payment options, including PayPal, Google Checkout, Amazon (I think),

We do accept paypal, amazon, and a bunch of known trusted shareware payment providers, but the issue is not whether the payment methods are safe and fast (they are); the issue is simply that it's still too much work and too unfamiliar to people to make it something that people do unless they have a strong motivation to do so.
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mouser
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« Reply #30 on: February 22, 2011, 04:13:13 PM »

There is something else that DC needs to start doing, that we've talked about before, which is help the coders on the site find commercial work through the site, if that's something they are interested in.

Companies and people interested in having custom software developed do hang out at DC, and we need to make it easier for them to hook up with coders on the site that they might want to hire for custom work, that are interested in such things (I know I am).  DC can play a role here by providing clients with some assurance both about the quality of the coders, but by providing an informal support system -- a safety net -- so that coder and client alike know that they can get help and guidance if they need it.

Note that I'm not talking about any kind of paid service where DC would get a "cut" from any such work -- I'm just talking about a way that DC can give back to the coders who contribute to the site by helping them find paying work in addition to the free work that they do.
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superboyac
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« Reply #31 on: February 22, 2011, 05:49:42 PM »

I'm considering starting a site for something like this.  But I'd have to get a cut of the sales.  I know that's going to turn a lot of you off, so I really have to think it over.  I'm not going to do it to get rich.  It's just my belief that I don't think it can be sustained otherwise.  I will try to think of a business model that makes be fair sense for all parties involved.  Basically, I'd like to be the middle man for the transactions and the business handling, and I'd like the developers to be able to freely focus on the product.  And I know that makes me sound like Jobs, but that's not what I want.  If it turns out to be that way, I will stop.  I don't want that.  I want it to be profitable, and I want to offer the talented developers here a way to focus on doing what they are good at and what they are talented in.  My talent is the business stuff so I would do that.  But I do know that my business beliefs tend to differ with a lot of people here, so I just want to be up front about that.  If I do it right I think it will be fun and profitable for everyone.  And I will do it in such a way where nobody is obligated to anyone.  I want it to be fair and fun.  This has probably already been tried and done before, and I'm probably not thinking about some prohibitive factor, but it's an idea I'd love to explore.
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #32 on: February 22, 2011, 05:59:35 PM »

But can't pay even a dollar to help support the site?

Or even 10ยข.  Agree with that but... perhaps can't access a mechanism by which to pay that 10ยข?
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Chris
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« Reply #33 on: February 22, 2011, 06:13:52 PM »

But can't pay even a dollar to help support the site?

Or even 10ยข.  Agree with that but... perhaps can't access a mechanism by which to pay that 10ยข?

I do have to agree with what you say too... but this same person has a PC, internet connection, is well-fed, housed, educated... implying there are always options. I think mouser hit the nail on the head: too 'hassley' somehow.

... or the person is a kid, in which case good - let's catch 'em young  Cool
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #34 on: February 22, 2011, 06:31:12 PM »

but this same person has a PC, internet connection, is well-fed, housed, educated

The thought had occurred to me, timns, but there are people with low-end equipment, without a lot of money, using basic internet stuff. They're the ones who probably benefit most from free software. They're also the least likely to qulaify for means to make online payments.

Okay, I agree, not nearly so many as the lucky majority whom you describe and possibly too few to worry about.

I know that, when I first came to DC, I had to go and set up an account in order to make a donation, and the bother of that held me back for quite some time. (Now, you'll notice, I seldom hold back at all  Wink)
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Chris
jgpaiva
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« Reply #35 on: February 22, 2011, 06:35:28 PM »

Another possibility would be:

  • 1. Click here to get a license key that will last until you upgrade the program to a new version
  • 2. Or donate any amount to become a lifetime member and get a permanent license key.
  • 3. If you are part of a non-profit organization, or are a freeware author, or have considered the ideas of the site and have decided that you will not be donating for whatever reason, send us an email describing why and we will send you a non-expiring license key.

The change here would be that instead of requiring a new license key every X days, you need a new license key when upgrading.  And no need to sign up for a key, you get one just by visiting the page.

This seems like it would be less annoying for most people.. the downside would be that it might lead to more irritating upgrades and people less likely to want to upgrade, and perhaps less donations.
The idea sounds good because it is not just a random date and it gives the user a nice feedback on how much work is being done on the app: "if the software is not updated, I don't need to get a new key, but if I need to get a new key, then at least I also get a new version". I like the "win-win" situation, but I also fear that it might cause people not to update in fear of the work the update might involve. It'd be nicer if we could find a better way to do something similar to this.

Also, It just occurred to me that the "there's a new update available" dialog is a good opportunity to remember the users of how much effort is put into the software. Maybe something along the lines of "This developer is working for you and there is a new version available of this free software! Care to donate?" could be added for non-paying users. I believe that a user that sees this message frequently might be compelled to donate Wink
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barney
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« Reply #36 on: February 22, 2011, 06:55:05 PM »

... help the coders on the site ...
That's easy enough to initiate - set up a commercial section, visible from the top level.  Then those that wish can establish IDs, mention strengths, reference previous accomplishments.

Yeah, there'd be more to it than that, but just implementing such would help to overcome the inertia of inaction.  Doesn't have to be perfect, refinements can be implemented as traffic increases.  A skeletal implementation could be fleshed out in a progressive fashion.

You could put up a topic for the coders to announce themselves, another topic to let consumers specify requirements, perhaps subtopics for each reflecting specific disciplines.  As a consumer, I could browse the coder information, post requirements in a general area or in a specific discipline area.

That is a functional model in current use by sites that serve a middleman function to connect consumer and producer.  You should have no trouble adding it here.  

A number of years agone, I was involved with a sailing site.  It had a forum for various boaters/sailors, even topics for certain boats, e.g. a J-boat section for racing sailors.  It also had a boat-wanted and a boat-for-sail section, as well as a kind of want-ad section - sailors looking for jobs, owners looking for captains/crew, and the like.  The site failed after three (3) or four (4) years, because the owner had no concept of marketing/advertising, just relied upon search engine traffic.  That just wasn't enough to make the site viable.  However the boat sale aspect and the captain/crew job part worked very well.  So, the site was functional, but the business model was poorly planned/executed, if planned at all.

There are aspects there that you could apply to DC without markedly affecting the rest of the site.  With a bit of wise marketing - no, that's not the horrible word/concept many think it to be - and some word-of-mouth, it could quickly become viable, whether monetized or not.

Just a couple of thoughts based upon past direct experience.
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barney
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« Reply #37 on: February 22, 2011, 07:00:55 PM »

Or even 10ยข.  Agree with that but... perhaps can't access a mechanism by which to pay that 10ยข?

Dunno the ins and outs of it, but there was a recent announcement that PayPal was accepting micro payments ... would that be of use?  Of course, that would assume that the payer had mundane things such as a bank account, payment card(s), and the like.  (I can remember being a kid and sending in Postal Service stamps in an envelope as payment  tongue.)
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mouser
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« Reply #38 on: February 22, 2011, 07:12:22 PM »

I'm always pimping the article I wrote about "micro-donations" and DC a couple of years ago, I hope you all forgive me for doing so.

The take home message from my standpoint is that all of the effort to let people make "micro" payments with low fees is addressing the wrong problem.  The real focus needs to be on getting EVERYONE set up to make reasonably small donations on a whim, without any risk or hassle.  The problem isn't the AMOUNT, the problem is the MENTAL WORK involved in donating.

The success of things like the App store, and Steam for playing games -- shows how immense the effort barrier is in stopping people from paying for things.  If you make it so people can click a button to buy something, without feeling like they are incurring any risk in doing so, and without having to go through any extra steps, they empty their pockets on things they don't even need.  While on the other end of the spectrum, if someone feels like it's going to take them more than 60 seconds to make a purchase, they won't pay a buck for the object of their dreams.

Part of what I say in that article is that to get donations, it should be as easy (or easier) to donate as it is to avoid donating.  Which is kind of how we have approached the license keys and why it's ok to say "if you have decided not to donate just write an email for a full license key", because i judge that it's as much mental effort to write an email as it is to donate.  The situation one wants to avoid is where doing the right thing (donating if you can afford it) is so much harder and more work than doing the wrong thing.

This is also why I'm starting to think the complexity of the process is hurting us.. because the mental effort required by people to even figure out how things work with the license keys is enough to turn many people away..
« Last Edit: February 22, 2011, 07:19:43 PM by mouser » Logged
JoTo
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« Reply #39 on: February 23, 2011, 02:59:04 AM »

Hi,

+1 from me for mousers idea with the "bound to version license key".
+1 from me too for jgpaivas idea for a "New update available" screen.

Reasons:
- Our software is and will stay free with this. Everyone can get the app and the license key without donating and signing up. Removing all that discussions here and there if DC is a freeware site.

- Its at users choice if he will stay and is glad with the old version or if he update and jump throughout the easy to go hoop to download another version bound key (forcing him to visit our page at least once again).

- The update screen should show improvements points though, so that the user can decide if he wants to go for the new version or still satisfied with the old one. And an update notification screen is IMO not considered a nag screen by most users. Maybe the "check for update" should be an option that can be disabled in the app preferences. That will cancel our interest in having the user back on our site though, but if the user is satisfied with his version and don't want a new key he will not visit our pages anyway and from then on the update screen will be considered a "nag screen" by that user.

For me that worked nicely when there was an offer for a free license key of "USB Safely remove". That was not upgradable though. But i was impressed by the generousity of that company and learned that they are nice and customer care related and responsive (they even did a special version soleyly for me when i ran into some coloring problems where i can't see some parts of the screen - WOW!). At the end the successor "Zentimo" from them offered me such a big additional value and i had the strong feeling to support that nice company. So i decided to fold my free key and purchase a paid one for Zentimo.

That make me think this may work for donations as well. If they see there are regularly updates and they benefit from them, they learn to know us more and more better, they think about a donation with more positive thinking over the time and lastly donate and visit our site regularly.

Maybe the free key download page can be combined with the "daily blog" page somehow, so the may get attracted by a new post or article when they go for their new key and maybe switch over to that post and read or in best case want to write a reply what results in a signup.

So i think with this concept we can reach all our goals like:
- Give useres the opportunity to use our programs really free and stop all the rumour all over the net about "Is DC software really freeware".

- Give users the freedom to use our apps forever in the version they got if they don't need updates and are satisfied with the features (and bugs *cough* *cough*) smiley

- Give us the chance that users visit the page regularly

- Convince users that visiting our pages that we are kind, nice, helpful and the best site in the net

- Make them maybe donate and/or at least think about to do so.

- Simplify the licensing process

And i think the 3rd choice "if you are not able to donate, write us an email" is totally unnecessary for this reasons:

- Our (mousers?) apps are already great and very useable. A freeware author or non-profit organization can perfectly live with the actual version of e.g. Screenshot capture. There is no need to always have the newest versions or features for them. So they can get the app for free, use it free forever and have no need for a next key. If they really want the new feature they have to go for the new key. So what? A small way to go for a really wanted and free gift that costs nothing more than 2 minutues of time and some mouse clicks, isn't it? I think we can demand that from them in reward for giving them the software for completely no obligations.

- I can't fight the feeling this can be considered "begging" by the email writers. For me i'd feel uncomfortable to write an email "I am soooo poor, please gift me the full time key". And there is no need for it anyway, as i can use my actual version unlimited and when i want the new, i can get the new key for free again and without begging.

- It complicates things again (a third bulleted point in the licensing explanation).

- We don't get any additional value from those that writes an email except additional work for mouser. He had to read, decide and reply to the mails. And we are giving away a full time key for nothing than work. And i think mousers time is better spent in improving FARR & Co. and torture the IRC channel members with teasing them into discussions and then mousering them (for non regular IRC channel members: "to mouser someone" is a new created verb by the DC IRC community that means to just stop responding in a running discussion without any seeable reason, letting the talking partner stand outside in the rain without an umbrella alone smiley ).

Last unresolved problem is the "how to donate" topic though. But i think that is not in our hands completely. There are other participants that must give us the opportunity to use an easy to use, for everyone payment system.

Just my 2ct.

Greetings
JoTo
« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 03:21:36 AM by JoTo » Logged
vlastimil
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« Reply #40 on: February 23, 2011, 05:27:28 AM »

Few thoughts about the new version->new key:
* If people are happy with the features of the current version, they tend not to upgrade (no motivation, fear of change).
* Upgrades often happen when people install new Windows or buy a new computer.
* It is in the best interest of the developer to push the new version as much as possible (support is easier if there are less versions out there; latest version has more features and hence better chance to be talked about and spread by word of mouth).

Getting people to donate is good, because the donor feels part of the community. I guess that is one of the Mouser's goal - getting people to participate in the forum, etc. People, who often upgrade already are part of the community, they are watching and waiting for the new features. If they did not already donate, they probably will in the future.

Problem are those other people, who downloaded and forgot. They are not likely to return and donate. Hence I would be against the principle of new version->new key. The opposite may actually make sense: if you are using the latest version, all is fine. Once a new version is out, users must either upgrade or donate or be bugged every month to get a new temporary license.
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jgpaiva
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« Reply #41 on: February 23, 2011, 05:37:29 AM »

Even though the new version->new key sounds well, I think I'm very much against it, as I believe it will have a very negative effect on DC. Vlastimil made a very good point: "regular" users (I don't mean regular DC folks, I mean non tech-savy people) will never update the software and will just ignore nags indicating a new update is available, but might be donors if remembered after 1month of application use.

mouser: maybe this decision would be simpler to make if there were some stats on what percentage of your software downloads are Upgrades, and how many people really donate through the "get your key after 1month" page.
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mouser
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« Reply #42 on: February 23, 2011, 07:46:19 AM »

wow we are having a really interesting and productive discussion here, i'm loving it.  and i really like the cooperative spirit of the discussion, trying to figure out new ideas while remaining true to the idea of being good to the users while helping the site.  thumbs up

Quote
Once a new version is out, users must either upgrade or donate or be bugged every month to get a new temporary license.

That's an unusual and intriguing idea -- my favorite kind!

I don't think you actually have to *force* them to upgrade but the point is still the same -- you could combine the REMINDER TO UPGRADE with the REMINDER TO CONSIDER DONATING.

By combining these two messages, it might make it much less of an annoyance, while still being a MORE EFFECTIVE request-to-donate (since it will come at a time when they are likely to notice our improvement of the program), which is basically a win-win situation.

Regular users who are pro-actively updating probably are already paying enough attention to us and are conscientious enough not to really need much reminding.. and i suppose you could always still show a quick "please consider donating" message when there is an available update..



This could be done with or without changing the free license key policy -- i.e. if we were feeling brave we could eliminate the need for anyone to get a free license key, and simply put this new idea of reminding people to consider donating during update checks or downloads, into effect instead.



So what are the downsides..  I guess the main downside is for programs that don't get updated very frequently.  Such programs are sometimes but not always less substantial than those that do, and this idea would seem to put those programs in an awkward situation where they aren't donated for much.

On the other hand there are a couple more advantages i can see to this..

One that I love is that, even authors who don't use the License Key system could put this reminder-to-consider-donating-TO-THEM into their update checker.  I could easily put it into the dcuhelper update checker tool that many of the Coding Snack authors use.  That might help these authors get more deserved direct donations.  I love that idea -- and it also would mean more donating and participating members on the site in general, since there are a ton of users of these programs that don't even realize where the programs came from.

Verrrrrrrrry interesting..
« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 07:48:41 AM by mouser » Logged
mouser
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« Reply #43 on: February 23, 2011, 08:08:03 AM »

Just continuing to think about how this new idea might work..

Let's just assume we no longer have any use for the free license keys that people now donate -- all of the software new and old, big and small, runs without needing any license key at all, and has no date at which it will start "nagging" you to get a new free license key or donate.

Instead..

If you haven't run an update check in the program since the last 30 days, it will pop up a box that suggests that you run an update check and that you consider donating. (If you have run an update check every 30 days or so, you will see no messages).

If an update is found, it will help you get the new version AND show a message at that time asking you to consider making a donation to continue to support the ongoing development of the program, and ask you to join in the discussion of feature requests, etc.

And perhaps we could add a message that would be displayed if there has not been an update in a long time, which was more of a "This program has not been updated in a long time but we hope you are making good use of it.. Would you consider making a donation and letting the author know you appreciate it and perhaps make a feature request for a new version?"

The idea being that all requests to donate are tied to update checking in an effort to make the messages more useful and not just nags, and also hope to catch the user when they are in a mindset to support the developer of the program.



One possible real downside to this is that it does violate a key idea of the article i wrote and have been talking about -- which is that it still makes it much easier and more convenient for people never to donate.. they might even view the reminders about update checking as a positive thing.  It may be that the main reason the free renewable license keys work is precisely because its easier to donate than it is to not donate and have to go get a free license key.  And any change which dosn't make it easier to donate than to not-donate will fail.

I suppose one way to solve that might be to make the update check involve something that makes the idea of donating more attractive.  For the larger apps that currently use license keys, we could simply say that update checking is only available for those who donate (though this would'nt work for programs that don't use license keys)..  That's an interesting idea.. Or we could have the update check /donation reminder message have a 30 second delay for non-donors -- which seems fair to me but could likely cause some frustration.
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« Reply #44 on: February 23, 2011, 08:15:47 AM »

The discussion is definitely turning fruitful!
I like how you defined it now. My only problem is what happens for apps that get frequent updates.
I personally would go mad if I had to update an app 3 times in a week (with stuff I might have never noticed) and insert the key each time. I think I'd go with something like:
1) major version updates require key update
2) regardless of updates, free keys last no more than 2 months

1) would keep people from having to get a new key 3 times in one week, and 2) would work for the apps that don't get frequent updates. The only problem is that the developer needs to mark an update as a "major" version. Also, this wouldn't stop the following situation: today I download FARR, tomorrow mouser releases a new major version and I have to go through the hassle of getting a key, etc.
Another interesting mechanism might be:
1) regardless of updates, free keys last at least 1 month
2) regardless of updates, free keys last no more than 2 months
3) if the app is updated in this period, user needs new key

This design does not help with making it less confusing, though Sad

[just noticed you made a new post, I'll read that now]
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« Reply #45 on: February 23, 2011, 08:21:48 AM »

Let's just assume we no longer have any use for the free license keys that people now donate -- all of the software new and old, big and small, runs without needing any license key at all, and has no date at which it will start "nagging" you to get a new free license key or donate.

Instead..

If you haven't run an update check in the program since the last 30 days, it will pop up a box that suggests that you run an update check and that you consider donating. (If you have run an update check every 30 days or so, you will see no messages).
I don't think this is a good idea, especially for people who have lots of DC apps and are already a donor. You wouldn't want them to be frustrated with constant "update and donate" nagging. Consider the idea that the largest DC donor has 10 DonationCoder apps installed (not really that hard!): He'd have an "update and donate" popup coming up every 3 days! And on top of that, he already donated a lot. Honestly, I think it's hard to avoid the "free key", as you can't be nagging people who already support the software.
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Paul Keith
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« Reply #46 on: February 23, 2011, 08:25:58 AM »

Let the users set the pop-up based on date or program usage frequency with an option to disable the pop-up.
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mouser
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« Reply #47 on: February 23, 2011, 08:28:49 AM »

Quote
I don't think this is a good idea, especially for people who have lots of DC apps and are already a donor.
Quick clarification -- I meant to say that such messages would not be shown to donors who have put in a license key.
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jgpaiva
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« Reply #48 on: February 23, 2011, 08:30:24 AM »

Paul: Now that you mention that, I've seen something very interesting somewhere about program usage frequency.
mouser: we could also add a "you've used this program for X hours" message to show the person how important the program is to them
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jgpaiva
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« Reply #49 on: February 23, 2011, 08:41:35 AM »

Quote
I don't think this is a good idea, especially for people who have lots of DC apps and are already a donor.
Quick clarification -- I meant to say that such messages would not be shown to donors who have put in a license key.
What you mean is that donors get automatic update check (with no nags), whereas the "free users" need to manually update (and get a "please donate" message when they do?)? That actually doesn't sound half-bad smiley
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